Juliet Schor, “Colossal Failure: The Output Bias of Market Economies”
Posted by The Situationist Staff on December 23, 2009
With the disappointing Copenhagen Climate Summit just behind us and with the most consumption-heavy holiday before us, there is no better time to hear Juliet’s Schor’s analysis of, and insights regarding, how we are living and what we might do differently.
Juliet Schor is Professor of Sociology at Boston College. Before joining Boston College, she taught at Harvard University for 17 years, in the Department of Economics and the Committee on Degrees in Women’s Studies. Schor’s latest book is Born to Buy: The Commercialized Child and the New Consumer Culture (2004). Born to Buy is both an account of marketing to children from inside the agencies and firms and an assessment of how these activities are affecting children.
Schor is author of the national best-seller, The Overworked American: The Unexpected Decline of Leisure (1992) and The Overspent American: Why We Want What We Don’t Need. Schor is also the author of Do Americans Shop Too Much? (2000), co-editor of Consumer Society: A Reader (The New Press 2000) and co-editor of Sustainable Planet: Solutions for the Twenty-first Century (2002). She is currently working on issues of environmental sustainability and their relation to Americans’ lifestyles.
At the third annual conference on Law and Mind Sciences, which took place im March of 2009, Professor Schor’s remarkable presentation was titled “Colossal Failure: The Output Bias of Market Economies.“ Here’s the abstract:
Mainstream economic theory claims that a competitive market equilibrium delivers optimal levels of consumption and well-being. The reasoning relies on a number of invalid assumptions, including the crucial premise that individuals’ preference structures are independent. If consumption is social, as considerable social science research shows, then the market delivers excessive levels of consumption, too many hours of work, and too much ecological degradation. (This is in addition to the well-known argument that ecological goods are externalities.) In this talk I discuss the implications of what has become a profound market failure, and how we can rectify it.
You can watch her presentation on the three (roughly 9-minute) videos below.
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For more information about the Project on Law and Mind Sciences, click here. For a sample of related Situationist posts, see “Juliet Schor on the Situation of Consumption,” “Economist Stephen Marglin Thinking about Thinking Like an Economist” and Jeffrey Sachs on Our Situation – Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, and Part V.”